Street Artist Don John’s Experience in Tokyo

As we listen to, watch, and read the cautiously optimistic developments at the nuclear power plant in Japan and consider the ever-growing estimates of the number of people lost during the last week and a half, we send our condolences and support and reflect on our fragility and survival. In ancient times populations fell victim to natural disasters as we do today. While we are better prepared in many ways, that preparation is tempered now as we watch our outstanding technological advances turn into our nightmare, compounding the severity of damage rendered by the natural world. As leaders in Japan talk about using this crisis to learn, we reflect on nuclear facilities, deep water oil rigs, and technologically lethal implications of our own creation.

(Please see 5 ways to help at the end of this posting)

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Tokyo at Night (photo © Don John)

Street Artist Don John lives in Copenhagen but happened to be on vacation in Tokyo when the calamitous earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck the coast of Japan. Nearing the end of holiday there with his girlfriend, some of his recent wheat pasted portraits had just appeared on streets in the Shibuya area of Tokyo.

brooklyn-street-art-don-john-tokyo-03-11-4-web Don John (photo © Don John)

The imagery for these pieces, developed far before the earthquake, in some ways mirror the shocked and saddened visages of the citizenry. Nonetheless, Don John reports that most people in Tokyo took the unfolding events in stride and reached out to one another and strangers to assist in a time of uncertainty and need. See some of his observations further down the page.

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Don John (photo © Don John)

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Don John (photo © Don John)

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Don John (photo © Don John)

“We were amazed about how friendly and helpful Japanese people are, even in a situation like this. All trains stopped in Tokyo after the earthquake and we had 5 kilometers to walk back to our hotel. This super friendly guy offered to walk with us all the way to make sure that we found it. Having been around the people that are affected by this disaster makes it even more terrible to follow the developments in the news.” ~ Don John

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Don John (photo © Don John)

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Don John (photo © Don John)

From Sarah Milner Barry at New York University News, here are 5 ways you can help our brothers and sisters in Japan:

Text REDCROSS to 90999 or JAPAN to 80888

Each text to REDCROSS will provide $10 for the Red Cross, and each JAPAN text will send $10 to the Salvation Army. If texting JAPAN, make sure you respond YES when you receive a “thank you” message. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Visit the Google crisis response site

The site provides an aggregate of different websites accepting online donations, including the International Medical Corps, UNICEF and the Japanese Red Cross Society. The website is also continuously updated to provide the latest information about the crisis.

Donate via iTunes

Apple has created a simple donation page on the iTunes homepage where you can send money to the Red Cross in just a few clicks.

Spread awareness on Twitter

Here are some key hashtags to remember:
#Jishin: focuses on general earthquake information
#Anpi: confirms the safety of individuals or places
#Hinan: lists evacuation information
#311care: provides medical information for the victims
#PrayforJapan: shows general support and best wishes for victims of the crisis

Attend NYU’s vigil for Japan on Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. at Gould Plaza, on 4th Street between Greene Street and Washington Square East.

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